Insulated panel system construction has been providing superior consistency, quality, design flexibility, and energy efficiency on commercial and multi-family projects for generations. Yet, the small to mid-size builders prevalent in the residential (infill) industry have been slow to adopt better methods.
Chicago Workshop™, which has roots in both, architectural design and construction, has long been a leader in designing and building homes with pre-cast concrete foundation walls and steel-frame exterior wall systems.
We spec these systems because of their strength, speed of assembly, energy efficiency, non-toxicity, sustainability, and lack of susceptibility to mold and termites.
This technology minimizes installation errors, reduces dependency on weather and availability of labor, and streamlines project management while providing a superior structure for your home or addition.
SPEED OF ASSEMBLY – A TWO STEP PROCESS
Manufactured wall systems eliminate a number of on-site steps, including concrete form setting and concrete pour, exterior framing and sheathing, insulation and house wrap.
Foundation walls and the exterior shell are manufactured in a controlled environment per our architectural design, shipped to the job site, and assembled at the job site in a day. These panels, which are installed by the manufacturer’s employees, come insulated, provide access for wiring and plumbing, and even include the galvanized steel studs for future drywall installation.
Then, for the exterior walls, specially trained crews take just a couple of days assembling the entire shell, including decks. The panels come pre-designed per our plans, insulated, and include openings, as well as wire chases. The exterior walls typically are erected within 3-4 days.
STEP ONE. PRECAST CONCRETE FOUNDATION WALLS
Poured monolithically, (single pour) in a controlled environment free of temperature or moisture fluctuations, on horizontal form stands for even weight distribution.
Reinforced with steel rebar and polypropylene fiber. Superior strength is built into each panel at 5,000+ PSI.
Our design provides pre-cast access holes for mechanicals, so that trades do not have to drill through the concrete, (as they do with conventional foundations).
Foundation precast walls are insulated throughout, including the corners, studs and bond beams, (and are assembled on site using a patented dove-tail system), thus they are thermally isolated, not just insulated. No additional damp-proofing is required.
STEP TWO. EXTERIOR INSULATED STEEL WALL SYSTEMS
Lightweight steel is combined with a moisture resistant ESP closed cell foam insulation, providing strength and thermal efficiency unavailable with any other system. 15-Year Manufacturer’s Warranty.
Manufactured wall frames are straighter than any stick-built counterpart, providing best structure for drywall and trim installation. Nail pops and drywall cracks are minimized because steel does not shrink, split, or warp.
The system eliminates thermal loss by eliminating thermal bridging (high thermal transfer materials penetrating insulated space) and minimizing unintended air infiltration of outside air, such as through cracks or openings.
Exterior wall systems have proven performance in high wind and seismic zones. Optional Hurricane Panels are available, as well as Anti-Ballistic Matrix Level 8 – highest UL8 rating (Department of State Certified Anti-Ballistic Plus Anti-force Entry Wall by Antiballistic Security and Protection, Inc.).
Unlike lumber, steel and foam insulation composite panels are not treated with chemicals to resist decay and insects, because these panels do not decay or provide food source for termites. Steel does not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Superior indoor air quality (IAQ) is a significant benefit.
We use ENERGY STAR™ compliant panel systems, featuring insulation which does not degrade over time.
Studies have shown that the exterior wall systems reduce energy costs by up to 75%, when compared to traditionally insulated walls (ASHRAE Journal March 1996, Christian and Kosny).
The EPS foam insulation component of the panel is solid (except where wire chases are incorporated) and does not provide voids or allow air movement through the walls. In a study conducted by Energy scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory* the stated R-Value of virtually every product on the market evaluated in the “real world” of thermal breaks such as corners, windows, doors, and stud walls was drastically reduced -EXCEPT when using Structural Insulated Panels.
The non-combustibility of steel provides significant safety advantages over wood framing and gives off fewer in an event of a fire. The systems used are fire-resistant and meet and exceed code requirements.
Composite, steel structural insulated panels are comprised of closed cell expanded polystyrene that does not allow for mold and other fungi.
Steel and foam insulation used in our exterior panel systems have no nutritional value for termites or other insects, and they cannot damage it.
Improving privacy and noise levels is an important goal for many. Composite steel and closed cell foam insulation performs better than wood in approximately 90% of the frequency range, particularly noises in the high frequency range.
Steel is “Green” because it contains a minimum of 25% recycled steel and is 100% recyclable. LEED credits are available in conjunction with the panel use.
It takes 100 trees to build a 3,000 sq. ft. home. We use systems which only require steel from two recycled cars.
No harm to the Ozone layer, as the EPS foam insulation in the wall panels is CFC and HCFC free.